When I came to NYC after college, I had $200, two terrible suits, and no job—but I did have a dream of helping to empower people through finance, and a lot of enthusiasm and determination that things would soon work out. After scrambling to find an apartment and some work as a temp, I set my sights on interviewing for Wall Street jobs. With degrees in English in Chemistry and no connections in the finance world, I heard it again and again: “You’ll never get a job on Wall Street.” Or, “Come back when you have an MBA,” and even a flat out (in the case of one especially harsh recruiter!) “No way.”
But when it comes to your career, I’ve always believed “no” is just someone’s opinion.
Rejections rolled in for a while, but I finally caught a break: while interviewing to be a receptionist at a private equity firm, I was able to transition to a different interview track and was finally hired as an analyst. From that first big break, I worked my way up the Street, in private equity, institutional trading and asset management (and along the way, I did get that MBA).
Fast forward a decade: I left a stable and successful career in corporate banking to become an independent entrepreneur. I had spent years on the Street searching in vain for the ideal firm: a place that was truly client-centric, transparent and inclusive, where women’s needs were represented and clients were empowered and protected. Finally, at the request of three different clients, I decided to start the firm I had never been able to find: a mission-driven, values-based, independent alternative.
So I founded LexION Capital, a radically different kind of wealth management firm, dedicated to ethical standards, transparency, and empowering women in their financial lives. I was in pursuit of my true dream – and yet, once again, I kept hearing that same loud chorus of “no.”
When I first spoke of my business idea – build an independent wealth management firm that is held to the fiduciary standard, focuses on women, and is ethical, transparent, and client-centric – people said, “Are you insane?” So I stopped talking about the idea and just started building LexION. By closing time on the day of our launch, we were profitable.
So let me repeat: when it comes to your career, “No” is just someone’s opinion, nothing more. No one can advocate for you or make it happen like you can. You have to be your own best cheerleader. You must believe in your own success, and this means that if the right opportunity doesn’t present itself, create your own opportunity.
A huge reason why I share my story is to help increase the visibility of female leaders in the finance space. Women in the C-suites, period, are all too rare. I want people to re-imagine Wall Street. I want them to know that Wall Street can look like me, that CEOs can look like me. We don’t see enough women in the C-suites, especially in finance. My hope is that other women see me and think, “If she can do it, I can do it.”